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Living with a perfectionist

(48 Posts)
christie2 Sat 29-Dec-12 17:04:16

Living with a perfectionist is wearing me down. Wasn't always this way, but dh has reached middle age and asserted himself over the household. Fair enough, it can't be all my way either but how to achieve the balance. I can't always be wrong. I feel too old to feel so insecure yet the constant criticism really is wearing me down. My mid life crisis has me wanting to pack it in and let him do it his way and I do it mine and be done with it. But there are children to consider......... Help!

Bonsoir Sat 29-Dec-12 17:07:26

Could you give some examples of where you feel that your standards are falling short of his?

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sat 29-Dec-12 17:11:05

You mean he's a nasty, controlling BULLY? hmm Let's call a spade a spade, shall we? Being a perfectionist is fine. Making your partner and family's life a misery by throwing your weight about and being critical is quite wrong and totally intolerable. It's not an equal partnership of give and take, it's dominance and it's designed to grind others down so that they eventually stop complaining, stop trying and give in for the sake of a quiet life. He wins

Have you tackled him about it? Refused to submit? Said 'no'? What happens when you challenge his 'assertion'?

christie2 Sat 29-Dec-12 17:15:55

It is constant nit picking, I don't dry the dishes dry enough, I don't line up the silverwear when I put it away, the fridge is messy, I use too many pots when I cook, I don't close lids properly, I put the pots away wrong, on and on. I don't organize the kids in the morning so the chaos in the morning is my fault. He wants them all called down at the same time, beds made, dressed and all eating at exactly the same time, I multitask too much, I need to focus on one task finish it then move on (even though I work 3 days a week and have 5 children). I don't make them do their homework neat enough I shop and forget to get everything in the groceries even though I am shopping with a young child in tow. I spend too much money ( I shop second hand) or I don't spend enough and the kids are dressed badly. I buy cheap stuff then back to I never stay on budget. So I have turned over tasks to him and when he drops the ball (we have not been on budget for 6 months since he took over the finances) he gets mad if I dare mention spending is off. He is great for a while then he gets busy at work and I have to take on all the home roles again and then within a short time back to the complaints.

Bonsoir Sat 29-Dec-12 17:24:58

Gosh, and how much of the housekeeping/childrearing for a family of seven falls to you, as opposed to him or to other people (cleaner/nanny/Granny etc)?

ImperialBlether Sat 29-Dec-12 17:27:07

I don't like him, OP! Do you?

RandomMess Sat 29-Dec-12 17:28:54


christie2 Sat 29-Dec-12 17:31:08

It all falls to me. No cleaner/nanny and my Mom is too far away although it is heaven when she visits. He just thinks I create chaos in the house and it would all be so organized and nice if I just did it his way.

Bonsoir Sat 29-Dec-12 17:32:13

shock shock shock

He dares criticise when he makes you do all the work?!

christie2 Sat 29-Dec-12 17:32:56

I do stand up to him and say no. Believe me I sometimes think how did I end up in this. I am no shrinking violet. But I do try to make nice for the sake of the kids. The thing that scares me is that I am starting to believe I am the problem. Sad really.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sat 29-Dec-12 17:33:35

I repeat... he's a bully. He doesn't want an equal partnership in a loving family, he wants to be the drill sergeant of a platoon of marines. You realise that he sets things up deliberately so that you fail and are therefore constantly trying to keep him happy?

Here's the acid test. What is he like with the other people in his life? Boss, friends, co-workers, shop-assistants, waiters? Does he throw his nit-picky weight around with them or does he keep his scolding little trap shut? If he is universally unpleasant to everyone then he may have a personality problem. If he saves up all his order-barking and belittling crap for you... he's just a nasty husband. If it's the latter then you should seriously research the possibilities of divorce and independent living with your 5DCs, work out what he'd have to pay in maintenance, where he could go and live etc.... then hit him with it that if he doesn't shut up, this is how life is going to be.

I couldn't live like that

ImperialBlether Sat 29-Dec-12 17:35:22

Just what Cogito says.

And remind him that you will expect him to take all five at once when he sees them in his new home. None of this business where he'll take one out at a time. No way. All five, three times a week. grin

lolaflores Sat 29-Dec-12 17:36:30

christie2 never ever say that second to last sentence ...ever again. If you do it is all lost. He sounds like a man who likes to shift the goal posts and has fun watching you keep up. ask yourself if it is the end of the world if the silver wear is not to his satisfaction. he is free to sort it out after wards. you do not have to listen to the grumping. free yourself from his nit picking and I would suggest him.
How long are you guys together and when did all this start

ImperialBlether Sat 29-Dec-12 17:38:07

I don't know anyone whose cutlery is lined up properly! Where exactly is he going for his guidance on good housekeeping?

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sat 29-Dec-12 17:38:52

"I am no shrinking violet."

I didn't think you would be a pushover. But some bullying men seem to delight in bringing a strong woman to her knees, possibly because they are so inadequate and so inferior, it's the only way they can not feel bad about themselves. He knows you want to keep things sweet for the kids and that's your Achilles Heel, unfortunately. Only by turning it back on him, demonstrating that you're not scared of independence and by showing him what life would look like when he's out in the cold... no family, no wife, no house... might he shape up.

pod3030 Sat 29-Dec-12 17:59:16

op, i could've written your post! i am a month into The Split and i am just starting to feel myself- little glimpses of myself pop up and it is like the sun coming out. i am living on my own with my 1yr old dd and initially it terrified me. but we are so much happier. ex p is a control freak and had to be the boss and knew what was best .everything was a criticism, even compliments were underhanded criticisms and i became a shadow version of myself, made myself small.I look back and see he is expert in gas lighting. to the outside world he is cool, laid back affable man.I believed him that i was the problem, kept going to self help things, how to improve myself, nlp courses, you name it. then i went to a counsellor, who said, you know what,you're actually ok. nothing wrong with you at all. i realised i had to be a good role model for my dd, she needed to see the real mummy, full of fun and colour and hope. The relief is indescribable op, and it will benefit your dcs much more than staying and not being the real you. sorry for the long post xxxxx

christie2 Sat 29-Dec-12 17:59:30

His role model is his mother who he was not speaking to all that often. He has friends but is known to be difficult and is disliked often and has been fired from jobs. I appreciate the support, I need to get strong again. I talked to a divorce lawyer last year and they didn't make me feel great. I was told our house would be sold he would get the kids half time (although I agree he would have trouble making that work but he is stubborn enough to do it to spite me) and I would have to go to work full time. Maybe I need to think it all through but I sometimes feel like buffer for the kids. I can get him to see reason at times, but it is so tiring. We have been together 20 years. Tbh, if I really think about it, it went downhill after our second child then the last 10 years have grown progressively worse. He threatened to leave me last year and I said fine, go for it. AFter one day he asked me to take him back and I did but I remember, being afraid that day but strangely, relieved. Thanks, this holiday with all our time together has made me think about my future, and the kids. Things have to change.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sat 29-Dec-12 18:04:02

Look into it more deeply, maybe a different lawyer & have a look at things like the Benefit Checker and the CSA maintenance calculator to see what kind of income you'd have ... I don't think you'd have to work full-time in order to generate a reasonable income. And would selling the house be the end of the world if it meant you could live in peace rather than with Baron Von Trapp?

christie2 Sat 29-Dec-12 18:04:58

Omg I just read your post again pod3030. He keeps telling me I need counselling. I said once, what if they say I am not the problem. He assured me I was due to my upbrining ( my Dad was an alcoholic) and my history ( I was beaten, raped and almost murdered when I was 17). I think I will go for counselling, if he is right, then I will get the help I need but if I am not the problem, then I can see what I have to do much clearer.

MooncupsAndSaucers Sat 29-Dec-12 18:17:25

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

TapirAroundTheChristmasTree Sat 29-Dec-12 18:23:30

Mooncups Grow up and get a grip.

The OP is posting about the type of person who would INVENT a reason to have a go; she could work her fingers to the bone 24hrs a day and he would still be unhappy.

Could you be any more unhelpful?

emess Sat 29-Dec-12 18:23:39

Mooncup - you are surely not serious????

I think counselling, for you, sounds like a very good idea. That will help to undo the mess he is trying to make of you, and help motivate you to get away from him.

Allergictoironing Sat 29-Dec-12 18:54:40

His role model is his mother. Hmm, did she have 5 kids and work part time too? I somehow doubt that!

Mooncups I'm going to be very generous and assume you left a wink off your post by mistake.....

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sat 29-Dec-12 18:57:42

I'm hoping Mooncups is demonstrating how emotional abuse works by posting ironically.... rather than just being an insensitive arsehole. smile Emotional abusers set the scene so that you're always 'trying a bit harder' in an effort to avoid the nit-picking. But, since they have no intention of you ever meeting their impossible standards, your efforts will never be quite good enough. It's a pretty classic bullying/emotionally abusive technique.

amillionyears Sat 29-Dec-12 19:01:57

op, does your dh have a medical diagnosis of something?

Allergictoironing Sat 29-Dec-12 19:09:07

Christie2 you say in your op that you want to pack it in but you have children to consider. Well consider how being brought up in the household he seems to want is going to affect them long term.

Do you really want them taught to believe that women are here to obey the slightest whim of their DPs, that they are failures unless every single thing is perfect, and that it's right for a man to treat his DP like yours treats you?

If he is telling you that YOU are the problem and YOU need counselling then that sounds totally wrong... and a symptom of an emotionally abusive man... my H knows that I grew up with a semi-alcoholic mother who always shouted and banged things around whenever she had to clean the house and I hated that, now he tells me I'm being lazy whenever I don't make enough 'effort'. I rue the day I let him know about my mother-issues, his biggest insult to me is to tell me I'm being like my mother... please read the emotional abuse thread and start with the links at the top, I've found it invaluable and am now able to detach from (most of) his abusive behaviour. Even if you cannot leave physically right away it helps to understand what he's doing. Good luck! I used to think my H was a perfectionist as well, now I just think he is a d*ckhead.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sat 29-Dec-12 19:15:06

To continue Allergic's point, you should check out the thread about 'Warring Parents'... link

LineRunner Sat 29-Dec-12 19:37:39

I would go and talk to a different solicitor. Your DCs might be old enough (are they 13+?) to decide with whom they wish to reside, and your husband will have to facilitate this to some degree.

You may be able to manage with a part-time job. But do talk to a more switched on solictor. Best of luck.

drizzlecake Sat 29-Dec-12 20:25:32

I would try totally bollicking him back. eg (at the top of your voice) For Christ's Sake stop the fucking criticism, if you don't like how I do it fuck the hell off. You are a whingeing old woman and I am not going to listen to this petty bleating a minute longer, either shut the hell up or get out. - you walk out the door slamming it behind you.

The kids make this difficult to do but I think I would tell them that Mummy is totally fed up with Daddy shouting at her and is going to shout back the next time he does it. Then they will know it's coming. They probably take the goings on at home as 'normal' but if you point out how nasty he is they will probably agree that he is and see it from your point of view.

It is horrid being criticised and put down but it will be pretty horrible for him when you scare the shit out of him by yelling back. People don't like being shouted at angrily and it might just make him change his ways.

Certainly I have been calling my DH on a few occasions (having allowed myself to become a doormat over the years and avoiding confrontation 'so as not to cause a row') and his behaviour has improved amazingly. I have to keep reminding myself to not let things go but it has definitely made a difference.

Your DH of course could be beyond redemption but it might be worth a try.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Sat 29-Dec-12 21:08:18

He sounds like my husband. We separated two months ago. I am not a shrinking violet either. I pulled him up for his treatment of me but he didn't change in time. I'm happier living separately, though it's horrible when the children aren't here (like now) but it still feels awful having a 'failed' marriage and there is lots of guilt.

But there is no choice because it's really destructive living with someone like this, for the children too.

I think you should look into your options and get the hell out if you can. x

doughnut44 Sat 29-Dec-12 22:23:01

I am going through something similar myself. I work from home and he even meddles with that. I honestly thought he was going to leave yesterday after I had asked him to (again), but the kids don't want him to go so he won't. I feel so trapped but I suppose I have to live with it.
All our friends love him and think I am a terrible wife as he does everything. Fact of the matter is as far as he is concerned he does it better than me - even down to hanging up the clothes to dry.
I have to grin and bear it for now. At the moment I have PMS so it's bad but I know in a day or so I will cope again - until the next time sad

doughnut44 Sat 29-Dec-12 22:24:02

I am going through something similar myself. I work from home and he even meddles with that. I honestly thought he was going to leave yesterday after I had asked him to (again), but the kids don't want him to go so he won't. I feel so trapped but I suppose I have to live with it.
All our friends love him and think I am a terrible wife as he does everything. Fact of the matter is as far as he is concerned he does it better than me - even down to hanging up the clothes to dry.
I have to grin and bear it for now. At the moment I have PMS so it's bad but I know in a day or so I will cope again - until the next time sad

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sat 29-Dec-12 22:26:26

"the kids don't want him to go so he won't."

Do you do everything your kids tell you to do? hmm Or do you usually exercise judgement and decide what's best for them?

doughnut44 Sat 29-Dec-12 22:27:13

drizzlecake, that didn't work for me - he just tells me I am mad/hormonal/fly off the handle which makes me feel worse.
I do ignore him most of the time and let him get on with it but it's mighty wearing!

GrendelsMum Sat 29-Dec-12 22:38:03

Is this how you want your daughters to be treated by their husbands?

Is this how you'd be proud to hear your sons talk to their wives?

Because if you stay with him, that's what they're learning a normal relationship is like, and that's what they'll go out and recreate for themselves. And when your daughters are unhappy, they'll stay together for the sake of the children...

doughnut44 Sat 29-Dec-12 23:06:42

Cogit - he doesn't want to go either or else he would be gone - how do you force someone out?

drizzlecake Sun 30-Dec-12 09:50:29

Yes, it might not work but OP says he wasn't always like this.

I don't think DCs can decide what is best for you all doughnut. They probably don't want the embarrassment of telling school mates etc. that they will be moving between two homes etc. Don't want the upset.

Perhaps you could start conversations with them and explain what would happen and how it would all work, and that it could be fine, with a happier mum and dad.

Letting them air their fears would be a good thing.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sun 30-Dec-12 09:54:46

" how do you force someone out?"

See a lawyer, get some proper advice and ultimately start the divorce. That sets a lot of things in motion, including physical separation of living arrangements. You don't need his permission to do this.

porridgelover Sun 30-Dec-12 11:18:31

OP ''The thing that scares me is that I am starting to believe I am the problem''.
I was that person with a difficult, controlling and abusive H.

They love a strong woman that they can dominate. they love to grind you down. It's a challenge. (See this for why). They usually get going when kids arrive as a) you wont leave and b) they no longer have your full attention to themselves (he is supposed to be your ultimate child).
Go to counselling- tell the counsellor that you are in an abusive marriage (you are) and that you are gathering the strength to finish it. Do not go to couples therapy with him.
Shop around for a better lawyer.

You sound like a fabulous person. 5 DC and you work and keep a home? Wow. Good luck.

porridgelover Sun 30-Dec-12 11:24:31

doughnut, you probably know that having your DH stay for the sake of the kids is nonsense. Why are you involving them in it? And if he is asking them, it is tantamount to psychological abuse. They don't get to have a say in it, I'm afraid. No more than they get to say whether they will wear a seat belt.

I would not take drizzlecakes advice to shout back....why would you reduce yourself to their level? And be certain, that he will have no compunction to stooping even lower. Plus, STBX will refer in pained tones to 'how you shout at me'. Dont do that to yourself, nor to DC. A dignified 'you may not speak to me in that way' and turning on your heel is sufficient.

christie2 Mon 31-Dec-12 12:02:26

Thanks all. I am booking a counsellor appointment today as a first step to get my head sorted first. Then I will be able to find a proper lawyer if that is the way to go. I read over the suggested sites on emotional abuse and it hit me hard that I am living in a way I never thought would happen. It sneaks up on you and my kids are definately what keeps me in it. I feel that there must be a way to change this and not hurt them. I feel like they may end up being relieved. I appreciate the support. I am not ready to talk this over with face to face friends and family but needed to "say" it to someone who cares. Thanks for being my online friends.

porridgelover Mon 31-Dec-12 16:02:37

"my kids are definitely what keeps me in it. I feel that there must be a way to change this and not hurt them. I feel like they may end up being relieved"

If there is a 'script' that EA partners follow, I am starting to believe that there is a 'script' that partners follow too.

I dont want to break up the family.
Perhaps it's all my fault.
He's a wonderful father.
I stay for the sake of the children.
I dont want to hurt the DC/my parents/his elderly parents.

I dont think there is a way to change this without hurting them. However, the alternative is that they will be hurt by growing up with this model of parental relationship.

Think of it as being in a burning building with your children. The only way out is through a door way ringed with fire. They will be singed on the way out. They will have smoke inhalation. But if you stay inside, the house will burn around you. Which would you choose?

It applies to you too. It will be tough, but you will come out of it better. Someone gave me that advice. I taught it wouldnt be true for me. But it is.

porridgelover Mon 31-Dec-12 16:03:49

taught= thought...... obviously <<grr>>

Allergictoironing Mon 31-Dec-12 16:08:04

As porridgelover (and various others further up the thread including me) has pointed out, you need to balance the short term hurt the children will feel when you break up with the long term damage that is being done to them every day they stay in that environment.

Brilliant analogy porridgelover - have a wine on me for it grin

porridgelover Mon 31-Dec-12 16:28:24

Thanks allergic; can I have one with bubbles and save it til later? grin

HisstletoeAndWhine Tue 01-Jan-13 00:51:21

Another one here with a man like yours in her now dimming and more distant past.

Get him out of your lives at whatever cost, for the sake of your lovely children, and I promise you, you'll never look back.

We'll all be here for you, for however long it takes.

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